Research of Dr. Menelaos Poutous Highlighted by SPIE

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The research of Associate Professor Dr. Menelaos Poutous has recently been highlighted by The International Society for Optics and Photonics due to the valuable insights it offers surrounding the fabrication of diffraction gradings. The paper, published by Dr. Poutous and Dr. Hanshin Lee of the University of Texas at Austin in October of this year, is titled “Reactive ion plasma etched surface relief gratings for low/medium/high resolution spectroscopy in astronomy.” As SPIE explains,

“Today, astronomers seek to observe the faintest and most distant objects possible. Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs), with apertures in the order of several dozen meters, are the next generation facilities to do so. However, building larger telescopes is only one part of the equation. The other part is the capability of detecting the gathered photons in the most efficient way possible. This is where making all other optical components in astronomical instruments more efficient becomes crucial. One essential component used in modern astronomical science is the diffraction grating. Its role is to spatially spread incoming light into its constituent frequencies, similar to how a glass prism does. Thanks to a precisely engineered structure that leverages the wave-like nature of photons, diffraction gratings can separate light of different wavelengths with very high resolution. When coupled with a telescope and a spectrometer, gratings allow scientists to analyze the spectral properties of celestial bodies.

Motivated by the somewhat stagnant progress made in grating technology over the past decade, researchers Hanshin Lee of the University of Texas at Austin and Menelaos K. Poutous of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA, focused on a completely different way of fabricating diffraction gratings. In their paper, […] they report their success on manufacturing proof-of-concept high-efficiency diffraction gratings using reactive ion-plasma etching (RIPLE), a plasma-based manufacturing technology normally used for semiconductors.”

Dr. Poutous first joined the Department in 2008 as the Senior Scientist of the Microphotonics Laboratory at the Center for Optoelectronics and Optical Communications, and he co-founded the Optical Structured Surfaces Lab in 2013. His research interests include spectroscopy, diffractive micro-optical elements, and artificial optical surfaces and coatings, among other research areas, and he has published more than ninety-five papers in scientific journals and conference proceedings.

Click here to see the original news highlight of the paper on SPIE’s website